Allergies such as eczema, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), and asthma are modern day problems, which many of us can relate to. Whether it’s from the environment, the food we eat, or simply because our immune system is weakened, having an allergy can significantly impact the quality of your life

Allergic reactions, whatever form they take, can flare up at certain times of year – hay fever in the summer for instance. But many occur as a result of the cumulative effect of environmental, food and lifestyle factors.

Residents of Hong Kong are more likely to suffer from allergies due to the pollution and humidity within the region: eczema, allergic rhinitis, asthma, hives, and anaphylactic reactions are frequent occurrences.

At IMI, one of the first things we look for many health conditions are allergies and intolerances. We see the allergy as a key indicator that the body is out of balance. Our primary goal is to identify the underlying cause – that is to look at broader environmental and lifestyle factors, diet, and genetics – to understand your health situation and what might be influencing this.

There are many symptoms depending on the type of allergy but the most common include:

Allergic rhinitis results in the inflammation of the nasal passages and can be seasonal (hayfever) or constant. Symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, black rings under the eyes, discharge from the eyes, itchy nose.

Eczema results in inflammation of the skin in various forms and is likely to present a rash and itching. If suppressed with treatment with steroids, children may later go on to develop allergic rhinitus and asthma.

Asthma is the inflammation of lower bronchi and airways and results in narrowing of airways resulting in episodic or chronic wheezing, shortness of breath, cough, and feeling of tightness in the chest.

Food allergies: In some people, the body’s immune system reacts unusually to specific foods. Reactions can be from mild to severe, and in most serious cases – anaphylaxis – can be life threatening. Common symptoms include – for milder cases, an itchy sensation in the mouth, throat or ears, and for more severe swelling of the face, around the eyes, lips and tongue; in anaphylaxis, breathing difficulties and feeling that the person is going to faint. For such reactions you should check if they are carrying an auto-injector pen (adrenaline inhaler), and call for an ambulance immediately.

In food allergies the immune system mistakenly treats proteins found in the food as a threat. In children, the foods that most commonly cause an allergic reaction are: milk; eggs; peanuts; tree nuts; fish and shellfish.

Allergies can be caused by many things and the medical profession do acknowledge that although the exact cause of why people develop allergies to food is unknown, they often have other allergies such as asthma, hay fever and eczema. Most children that have a food allergy will have experienced eczema during infancy. (ref NHS).

From our thorough research, clinic experience and practice, treating thousands of infants, children and adults for all types of allergies, our conclusion is that allergies are often the accumulated effect of toxic overload, along with a genetic predisposition. Factors that contribute to this overload can be summarised as:

Environmental factors such as poor air quality and pollution.

Food factors such as intolerances, diet and inferior food quality.

Lifestyle factors – not enough sleep, too little exercise and too much stress.

Environmental Factors: Poor air quality is not limited to outside but can also be a major problem inside the home – highly toxic particulates in the air, chemicals and allergens in household and cleaning products, pets, smoking, dust, damp and mould can all contribute to an unhealthy environment.

Food factors: The main food culprits for food intolerance tend to be cow’s milk products, eggs, peanuts, wheat and gluten, soy and fish, as well as chemicals and preservatives added to processed foods.

Lifestyle factors: We will spend some time to talk about your lifestyle and gain more understanding of the full picture, and any gradual changes that may be possible.

In Hong Kong, with all of the factors mentioned, the total toxic load builds up very quickly. First is important to reduce toxic exposure where you can. Pollutants such as high chlorine in water and detergents and need to be checked closely, as well as reducing indoor air quality, and possible food intolerances. Children and babies are particularly sensitive to allergens. Allergies in the young can also lead to learning difficulties and behaviours including ADD and ADHD and in particular, from food intolerances.

For food allergies, the food/s causing the allergic reaction will be identified if possible and avoided. For other allergies, although lifestyle factors are, to some extent taken into account, conventional medicine focuses on suppressing the symptom rather than looking at the cause or the long-term cure. This suppression leads to long-term reliance on medication which is detrimental to our overall health, including:

Asthma – Inhaled corticosteriods, Prednisone, Newer drugs: Leukotriene-receptor antagonists aka cingulair

Eczema – Topical steriods, calcineurin inhibitors, Antihistamines or/and Antibiotics for secondary infections

Allergies e.g. rhinitis – Antihistamines: zyrtec, clarity or intranasal corticosteroid

The first step is to determine and remove the root to the cause e.g. stress, diet, food intolerances, environmental toxicity in living, and working conditions. For food intolerances, analysis will involve a simple blood test (IgG) or a program of elimination until the digestion and gut returns to a healthy form. We would then devise a diet that excluded these problem foods and one high in nutrients to repair and re-energise the immune system including whole grains, fruit and vegetables, high quality fish and oils. For food and environmental allergies, a blood test (IgE) may be recommended. We would recommend a simple blood test. Commercial test kits are available but many are based on unsound scientific principles and so we recommend that you have the correct test and analysis for these. We may also test for toxic metals, which would need specific treatment depending if any/which ones were present.

This first stage may also include recommending water filtration systems which will remove harmful chlorine, toxins and metals but will keep in the healthy minerals. We would also check liver function and look for evidence of a leaky gut; another key factor in the development of allergies. If healing was needed, an individualised prescription for supplementation would be given, including a course of probiotics to replace the good bacteria.

The second stage is about helping the body to heal itself and at IMI we offer a range of treatments including supplementation, herbal therapy, homeopathy, hydrotherapy and acupuncture. Properly prescribed potent herbal treatments and clinical grade supplements can restore repair the organs and systems of the body in a deep way. This is because unlike pharmeuctical medication, herbs are natural organic compounds which can work in harmony with the body, rather than be another substance for the body to process. Homeopathy is particularly effective when treating allergic symptoms and helps to identify the causes. It’s also safe and effective for children.

The final stage would be to strengthen the immune system, decrease toxicity, normalize inflammatory reactions, optimise metabolic function and balance our regulatory systems to enhance regeneration. This would be approached using individually prescribed supplementation and would include natural anti-inflammatory products, botanical medicine, nutrients, high doses of vitamin D and glandulars such as: Curcumin; Boswelia; Green tea; and Quercetin.

Further treatments, such as osteopathy and chiropractic may also be recommended for asthma sufferers, to help the lungs to open up.

IMI has a specific approach devised for children to ensure that they have the individualized support that they need. This starts with an assessment for total toxic load and food intolerances. Depending upon the results, the treatment would be customised, broadly following the stages outlined above.

Given that on average, over 200 harmful/toxic chemicals are found in a growing fetus , if you are planning to conceive, it is important to be as vigilant as possible and reduce your exposure to toxins. We can advise women and men considering having a baby how to minimise toxic exposure and make the necessary adjustments in their lifestyle before planning to conceive (see preconception detox). If you are already pregnant, there are also changes that you can safely make to your environment and lifestyle. A naturopathic physician would be able to advise you.

What’s next?

If you have allergies, we can help.

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